Web Accessibility Policy Making:
An International Perspective
This document is an excerpt from the G3ict White Paper “Web Accessibility Policy Making: An International Perspective,” (Revised Edition 2012) researched and edited by Nirmita Narasimhan of Centre for Internet & Society, India, in collaboration with accessibility and disability policy experts from around the world. The paper seeks to identify some of the initiatives and best practices which have been adopted by 14 countries and the European Union as a first step towards policy formulation for countries.
New Zealand has instituted legislation and guidelines covering web accessibility, which mandate compliance by public sector agencies. The government has also so far updated guidelines in line with the WCAG. New Zealand has both signed and ratified the UNCRPD but has neither signed nor ratified the Optional Protocol.
New Zealand has several strong legal and policy requirements of agencies to make their websites accessible. Governmental departments need to respond to a mix of legislation and cabinet directives, as well as international obligations on the government as a whole. A set of specific guidelines called NZ Government Web Standards and Recommendations v2.0 (2009) specifically deal with web accessibility. These guidelines mandate compliance by public sector websites with the standards prescribed, which are based on the WCAG.
Earlier, the State Sector Act, 1988, ensured that public service systems were accessible to disabled employees, including intranets and computer applications. The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and Human Rights Act 199338 oblige the government to “reasonably accommodate” persons with disabilities. The Departments of the Government are also required to implement the New Zealand Disability Strategy, as directed by the cabinet.
2. Compliance with WCAG:
The New Zealand Government Web Standards are fully based on the WCAG.
New Zealand Government Web Standards and Recommendations apply to any website that is intended for the public and financed by the public through the crown or through public agencies. This covers all public service departments, the Police, the Defence Force, the Parliamentary Counsel Office and New Zealand Security Intelligence Service. Websites that are intended for a limited or specialist audience may not be intended for public use. Such sites should nevertheless make every effort to comply, in order to be accessible to the specialist audience. This extends to websites that are internal to an agency (intranets).
4. Mechanism for updation:
The government has thus far updated its standards with changes in the WCAG. The New Zealand Government Web Standards 2.0, which was released in March 2009, recommends compliance with the WCAG 2.0 Guidelines. After the release of the recent Guidelines, an entirely new version of the New Zealand Web Standards was published.
1. New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and Human Rights Act 1993
2. New Zealand Web Standards
3. New Zealand Web Guides
4. Meeting the Standards